Birdwatching in Italy - Birding Italy

Birdwatching in Italy - Birding Italy

Italy is a natural bridge connecting continental Europe to Africa across the Mediterranean. The heterogeneity of natural habitats offers many opportunities to watch birds, starting from species typical of the Siberian taiga, as the Pygmy Owl, to an Indo-African species as the Bonelli´s Eagle.


The total number of bird species recorded for Italy is now 557 (2018)! Look also at our photo-gallery and at the Rarities Section. The latest report of the Rarity Commitee is published in Avocetta.

The number of spccies recorded in Italy is the forth in Europe after Spain (658), UK (628) and France (591).

Most wanted Italian birds

Marbled Duck started to breed in Italy in recent years. The first breeding proof was in Sicily close to Mazara del Vallo. Since then it expanded its range along the Sicilian coast and in 2006 bred at Longarini marsh, Siracusa.  
Italy hosts the biggest population of race feldeggi of Lanner. Italy hits the Northern limit of world distribution of this African taxon. Northernmost limit set in Emilia Romagna, where numbers usually may fluctuate; main population across the Apennines (from Tuscany to Calabria) and in Sicily. This island hosts the largest population with 80 breeding pairs, now declining.  
Outside Israel, Italy is the only western country where Great Black headed Gull can occur in winter regularly. Eastern Sicily is the only site where this happens. Out-of-range vagrants can occur virtually anywhere, from sea-rocks to inland large rivers.
The intensively-sought Wallcreeper is a common breeder along the Alps and Appennines. However it has a patchy distribution and it is difficult to spot. Some sites are located in remote alpine cliffs and therefore impossible to explore, and the species is more easily to be encountered during winter time when moves down from the mountain area.  

Last individual of Lammergeier was extirpated from the Italian side of the Alps in 1913. The first breeding occurred after reintroduction in 1998 in Stelvio National Park; now at least 4 breeding pairs are known on the Eastern side of the Italian Alps and 3 pairs are present on the Western side. Vagrants, maybe from the Corsican population, are recorded sometimes in Sardinia.

The Rock Partridge is widespread on the Appennines and Italian Alps but it is not always easy to find. It prefers the rugged and rocky slopes above 1500 m asl. In Sicily, a different subspecies, sometimes elevated at the level of true species, occurrs, the Sicilian Rock Partridge (Alectoris graeca whitakeri).

Moltoni´s Warbler has recently treated as a full species and included in the new updated Italian Check list. Italy is the only European country where all three Subalpine Warblers occur: Nominate subspecies S.(c.) cantillans and S.(c.) inornata, nesting in Southern Italy; Moltoni´s Warbler S. moltonii, nesting in most of Northern Italy and Sardinia; S.(c.) albistriata, with few pairs breeding in Friuli Venezia Giulia. Vocalizations are the best way to identify Moltoni´s Warbler in the field.  
Pine Bunting is found to be a rare but annual winter visitor along the Tuscan coast and in heathland biotopes in Friuli Venezia Giulia (Magredi del Meduna). Scattered records could indicate small numbers overwintering occasionally elsewhere (Pianura padana).  

Treated alternatevely by different authors, as a subspecis of House Sparrow P. domesticus or Spanish Sparrow P. hispaniolensis or sometimes believed to be a hybrid between the two, this intriguing taxon called Italian Sparrow, our national bird, is widespread from the Southern slope of the Alps down to Calabria. In Sicily, House Sparrows show intermediate features and is reported as P. domesticus maltae. Further analyses can clarify the taxonomic status of this taxon, which interestingly, occurs in Europe, only in Italy. Now is treated as Passer italiae, endemic species of Italy.